AMD alternatives to VIA chipset Hell

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20 years 8 months
Submitted by Anonymous on Mon, 01/14/2002 - 15:04

It seems that it is pretty much carved in silicon that the VIA Chipsets suck. There were problems with the older chipsets, and now even the latest KT266A chipsets have been reproted to have PCI bandwidth issues. Opus pointed us to this article addressing the issues with the pci bus. The article explains that an independant programmer took steps to correct the issue, but no software solution is going to fix an underlying hardware issue brought on by creating a product (VIA chipset) that is not up to spec (PCI). There are numerous posts of problems on VIAs own website posted by dissatisfied VIA chipset users, which even include the latest and "greatest" KT266a chipset. Toms Hardware

I have been looking into alternatives to the VIA chipset, without much success.

I am looking for an AMD XP main board that supports ATA100 and that has at least 3 DIMMs. I don't want onboard audio or video.

I couldn't find anything like this. Are there any up and coming boards I could check into?

One guy I spoke with on irc said he had the ecs k7s5a, sis735 chipset mobo. But it popped and clicked during use of Winamp while burning a cd. Surely it would hicup while doing some serious audio work? I can't really determine that given the lack of info though.

I want to go with AMD soo bad. You get more bang for the buck w/ AMD, but without a solid chipset, you are left with nothing.

I already bought my AMD cooler and shim, which I guess I can return to In the end, it would be better than having a "defective" VIA board. Any suggestions would be great.

Indeed there are AMD alternatives...
There are mobos with AMD chipsets...750, 760, 760MP, and 760MPX. I've heard rumours of discontinuation of some of the models, but I have no specifics on that. These chipsets are known to be very stable. They're not the most powerful on the market, according to benchmark tests, but in the "real world" the slight performance differences between competing chipsets/motherboards is undetectable. Leave the power up to the CPU and memory, rely on your motherboard for stability.
There is also an underdog which is largely unknown, but is very popular with system builders, iWill. They make many different socketA mobos, their most-praised being the KA266plus, KA266-R, XP333, and XP333-R. All of these mobos use Ali Magic chipsets, and are known to be very solid. Again, like the AMDs, they're not the most powerful on the market, but they're dependable. The major drawback with them is that their performance with audio apps is still a mystery. I've yet to read a thread anywhere where anyone is using one with a DAW. Also, these mobos are not on the AMD "approved" list, but that's not necessarily an issue. It could be that iWill just hasn't greased the right palms...
The SIS chipsets are widely-known to have a lot of problems, and are not good performers. Best to steer clear of them.
There is also the new nVidia nForce. It's a great theory, and probably has a future, but for the present it is lackluster in performance, has many driver issues, and generally still needs to have the bugs worked-out. Best to also stay clear of this one.
So, those are your VIA alternatives for an AMD system. Keep in mind that chipsets perform quite differently on motherboards made by different manufacturers, and that each motherboard has different features. You will find that almost every motherboard has onboard sound, but it can be easily by-passed. I hope this was of help to you.

thanks SonOfSmawg, for the speedy reply.

Until now, I never really did much research into chipsets found on AMD compatable motherboards. The AMD 760 chipset seems to be the most promising solution to me at this point. From what I have read though, the AMD 760 actually consists of 2 chips, the Northbridge (761) and the Southbridge (766).

The following is an excerpt from AMD's own FAQ on the 760 chipset...

Q: What is the AMD-760™chipset?
A: The AMD-760™chipset is AMD's next generation chipset for the AMD Athlon processor. It consists of two chips - the AMD-761™ system bus controller, or northbridge, and the AMD-766™peripheral bus controller, or southbridge. ...[supports] DDR memory technology... The AMD-760 chipset supports the AMD Athlon processor with both a 200MHz and 266MHz front side bus, as well as PC1600 and PC2100 Double Data Rate (DDR) memory and 4xAGP graphics.

Q: What are the features and benefits of the AMD-761™northbridge?
A: The AMD-761™system bus controller features support for the AMD Athlon™processor, up to 4Gigabytes of PC2100 or PC1600 DDR memory, and 4xAGP graphics card support. It also features a faster 266MHz bus...

Q: What are the features and benefits of the AMD-766™southbridge? What speed hard drives does the AMD-760™chipset support?
A: The AMD-766™peripheral bus controller supports Ultra DMA 100/66/33 hard drives. Along with support for standard PCI, the AMD-766 controller also supports up to four USB ports for easy connection of peripherals.

From what I have observed, the problem with the VIA KT266a and other VIA chipsets is that the PCI bus was not made to spec, which causes major problems in audio work, video work, and data transfer utilizing PCI bus.

The most ideal solution would be a motherboard (from a proven manufacturer) that incorperates both the AMD 761 Northbridge and the AMD 766 Southbridge. I was unable to find a motherboard that met that criteria.

I believe the Northbridge chipset is actually in charge of handling the PCI bus (among other things). Since VIA has proven that they can't do that right, I would think it would be okay to go with a motherboard that has the AMD Northbridge 761 and then leave the Southbridge to VIA.

the follwing excerpt from a VIA msg board thread supports this theory...
...When I purchased my KR7A-RAID I was hoping for top notch RAID performance. Especially in light of the new ATA 133 spec. My KG7-RAID was really fast using RAID (not effected by the VIA PCI limits), and I expected even better out of the KR7A. So I am disapppointed in that...Yes, the KG7-RAID (AMD 761/VIA 686B) does better (less dropped frames) ...

[from] Link removed

So, I think I'm gonna go for the Abit Kg7 motherboard. More research couldn't hurt though. If anyone uses this board, could you post your system specs and results?

BTW, the pont of this thread was to help anyone (including myself, of course :) who wants to go with an AMD DAW solution. I realize, that Intel is the safe bet, but I like working out problems like this. Sorry about my longwindedness too, but again, this was just an effort to help anyone else in the same boat.

interesting.....hello. i'm brand-spankin-new here to this site. thought this topic was quite interesting considering i'm about to put together my own amd daw. i'm not the tech nor the intermediate knowledgable person on computers, so i've kind of been trying to piece this all together on my own. so far that i've come up with is that amd is fairly reasonable and powerful, but has its own downside, ever since running across this site.
peter leoni, don't know his history or credibility, but in an article on he gives a few pointers on amd including the stable, affordable, simple, and powerful solution for a daw. he recommends this:

iwill kk266
athlon t-bird 1.4ghz 266fsb
maxtor diamondmax plus 7200rpm (for me x2)
matrox g450 dual head video
enermax whisper ps 300w
512mb sdram
drives and such

i've been able to price this all together at bout 1075 clams w/out shipping. just wondering about anyones thought to this. i'm not a big time studio recorder or any complicated live band setups. just alot of sampling, effects, programming, and maybe some live recording here and there.

as far as going with something more simple he says you can get 60-80 tracks of 24bit 44.1khz audio on a stable system.

i havent really looked too deep into ibm setups because too many random people that i run into run an amd sytem. but like i said i'm not a tech and havent really been looking for too long yet. is there anything that i should start chasing for more ideas?

the purchase-money-blowing-fiasco will begin shortly so any input would be great.

cheers opus.......any relation to the heiroglyphics crew!?

What do you mean I aint even in here!! dont know me very well now do you ...nyuk nyuk nyuk...woo woo woo woo.. A little Curly in everyone I tell ya!!

Heiroglyphics crew? heh? lost me there bub!!

AMD systems are really nice..and the whole issue on VIA vs Intel vs Sis vs Ali vs AMD and now the vs NVidia!!! when will it ever end? who knows..
I'll tell ya this tho..I'm thinking the Asus Dual AthalonMP board is going to be my choice!! two 1.4Ghz with 4GB DDR friggen system...even with a Single Athalon XP or MP is a screaming should have no problems doing electronic music till the cow comes home my friend!!

Anyways, I'm just touching base on this topic! I'll repsond more tomorrow with a more awake state of mind to discuss chipsets and so forth!
and welcome aboard Jace

Opus, that would be the(drools) [=""]ASUS A7M266-D [/]=""]ASUS A7M266-D [/]. Looks like an ass kickin board. Should beat an INTEL dual Xeon at a fraction of the price.

jace_one that line-up looks great except for the IwillKk266. Its the best of the VIA kt133a boards with the dreaded 686B southbridge, I know because I own one. My old MAXI ISIS would not even get recognized by it, Seasound Solo hiccuped as did Soundblaster Live. They can't fix it, there are data transfer losses to boot. Not good.

I've been playing with a couple of ECS K7S5A motherboards. The SIS 735 chipset was engineered for increased input/output bandwidth. has them for under $60 bucks. So far, rock solid. Unless you are an experienced builder these boards can be long in the set-up process, but they are great. Theres a FAQ/bible on that board at
[[url=http://="…"]OCworkbench[/]="…"]OCworkbench[/]. It can use either sdram or DDR ram.

Also, the XP Athlons are about the same price as the regular Athlons so it pays to get the XP, you'll get a cooler chip and SSE support for your apps that regular Athlon does'nt offer.
Tommy P.

Yes the Asus A7M266-D is da bomb!! I drool over it all the time now!! lol
Check this out...this what I truly drool over :p

Now thats what I call a screamin' board!! Yeehaw!!
Imagine that in a 3u or 4u rack mounted case!!
Altho you need a server box for it but I'm sure you could accomadate it somehow into a rack unit!!

the oh boy,
now I'm all psyched about the ASUS A7M266-D. I've done a bit of reading into this great mobo.

One interesting thing I found, is that it doesn't come with onboard USB (they had problems with stability) so a 4 port USB 2.0 PCI card is included with the motherboard. I wanted to know if this pci card has support for internal USB. I sent off an email to ASUS on this issue, as I couldn't find this information elswhere. Note USB 2.0 is backwards compatable.

This may be common knowledge to most of you, but I have read that you can use a single AMD MP processor at a time. This is cool because, now I can go over-budget, without going WAAAAY over-budget - then when the Visa bill gets a little friendlier I can add another MP, heat sink, fan etc.


i'll give another board a look tommy, thanks for the heads up. this will be the first thing i'm building, so hopefully it woiks!

money or music.....mmmmmm
lively-hood or entertainment/peice of mind......
damn the choices.....
lets go bag to the knuckle draggin' days of the neanderthal man....

I've been running an A7M266 with a 1.46Ghz processor on PTLE 5.1 for about 8 months now. It rocks. I use the Promise ATA100 TX2 controller card for both hard drives, system and audio. Have achieved 40 tracks with 5 Digirack plugins per track or 200 plugins for over 3 minutes recording. I do think these AMD northbridges make a big difference as the best performer on the DUC is a GA7DX with the same chipset and an XP1800 CPU. The A7V266E is runnning solid with ProTools, but lagging behind the AMD761 chipsets by a small margin. That may change with the VIA patch.
Allen :)

I ended up going with the iWill XP333-r. One little qwirk I ran into was that I discovered that you cannot run a cdrom/dvd/cdrw on the Highpoint RAID controller. I know, I know using the RAID controller may not be the best idea for a DAW, but my cable wasn't long enough to connect the cdrom to the native IDE controller. still waiting on that new cable.

2 x 256 pc2700 Kinmax ram
XP1700+ (not unlocked, yet)
Enermax 350w psu w adjustable fan speed (set to lowest)
IBM 60gxp 60 gb for sytem/storage (primary master)
IBM 60gxp 60 gb far all audio (secondary master)
ASUS Geforce2 ti 32mb (went out on a limb on this one, if it starts causing problems I'll throw in a matrox)
LianLi pc65 w/ cold cathode light (16 switch hydrualics coming soon :) -proud to be a dork
system temp 39C

The only complaint I have is that the sytem is a little loud, but there are a total of 8 fans in the box. I'm going to try lowering the noise with some teks posted on the quieter case thread.

Hmm...ya know you dont have to put the drives where they're supposed to go? right? I usually put them right under neath the CDROM in those slots..altho only one side is screwed in on the drives it still holds it and enables you to better configure the IDE cables for optimum performance.
8 friggen fans? Geez!! lol
what case did you get? The space shuttle endevor?
There should be a fan on the processor, fan for PSU and an internal fan for within the case(if needed)

I went for the LianLipc65 all aluminum case. I chose this case for several reasons.
Aluminum is great for cooling down the system.
This case is extremely good in terms of quality. all edges are smooth, thumbscrews for everything, and it has cool removable drive bays. It looks cery cool. It is a little pricey, about $190usd -and that's without a psu. I feel no regrets though.

fan count:
2 -power supply
1 -cpu
1 -exhaust (came w/case)
2 -intake (came w/case)
1 -gfx card
1 -chipset

I mounted the hardrives in the HD bay, mainly because the intake fans blow right over the drives this way.

LianLi makes great cases. I would reccomend them to anyone.


Hi all :)

Total newbie here. I was wondering if You guys could give some input regarding my computer and how suitable You think it would be to use it as a DAW.

Here's what I've got so far:

MSI K7T-266-PRO2-RU (Raid and USB 2.0)

AMD K7 Athlon 1600 XP

2 x 256 MB DDRAM (total 512 MB)

IBM 60 GB GXP 7200 RPM

The graphics card is nothing special, and I'm using the integrated sound at the moment (will upgrade to something DAW suitable).

From what I can tell by reading previous posts here, it seems the K7T-266A chipset is not a very good choise for use in a DAW?

Any recommendations welcome, please let me know what components You think I should replace and which to keep...or if I'm better off selling the lot and buy new stuff altogether?

Thank's in advance


welcome to RO jellybelly! A virgin poster...ahh, what a sweet thing indeed :p
Well, the KT 266 for some people works problems..sometimes it can be more the motherboard than anything..
The question here is..are you having problems? If not then dont worry about it!! It's some cases where the via chipset will cause absolute anarchy and chaos! Just install the latest Viatech 4in1 drivers if you are having probelms to see if that will resolve any issues.
The KT133A has issue on the PCI 2.1 compliancy and data transfer rate/corruption issues. I think the KT266A has something similar but I cant really remember off hand...I just stay away from Via alltogether due to their track record on screwing things up!
Let us know if you are having any problems beore we reccomend you build an entirely new system!!

Thank's Opus :)

Appreciate the reply.

Thing is, I haven't tried anything serious yet, since I don't even have a soundcard worth mentioning. :)

Take care